Cure the Streets is a pilot public safety program launched by OAG aimed at reducing gun violence. It operates in discrete high violence neighborhoods using a data-driven, public-health approach to gun violence by treating it as a disease that can be interrupted, treated, and stopped from spreading. Research and data show that empowering communities to interrupt violence, intervening with those most likely to commit or be victims of violence, and changing norms around violence can have long-lasting impacts. That’s why OAG launched Cure the Streets in several targeted neighborhoods in Wards 5, 7, and 8 that have historically experienced some of the highest rates of gun violence. OAG staff manage grants to organizations that administer the program and monitor data regarding its efficacy.
Cure the Streets is based on the Cure Violence Global model, which employs local, credible individuals who have deep ties to the neighborhood in which they work. Here how’s the program works:
- Outreach workers and violence interrupters de-escalate conflicts, attempt to resolve them through mediation, and avert potentially fatal shootings.
- They work to develop relationships with residents who are at high risk of being involved in gun violence so they can detect and mediate conflicts, prevent shootings, and improve public safety.
- After mediating a conflict, the violence interrupters remain engaged with the participants, in part to ensure the mediation results in a lasting peace, and to help connect the person with services and to help them live non-violent lives.
Cure the Streets is designed to address certain types of gun crimes, those that result from reciprocal violence. It is not intended to address, for example, intimate partner violence or violence related to random crime.
The Cure Violence public health approach to violence reduction has had success in cities across the country. But it is not solution by itself. Rather, Cure the Streets and violence interruption efforts are a needed piece in a much larger effort to reduce crime and violence, that includes the critical work of police, prosecutors, more involvement in trauma reduction services, and workforce development. Those larger efforts to improve public safety also should include aggressive gun safety reform, holding individuals accountable when they commit crimes and changing their behavior, so they are less likely to reoffend in the future, and addressing the root causes of crime in our communities – including poverty, hopelessness, and trauma – to break the cycle of violence.
Cure the Streets Sites
OAG launched the program in the summer of 2018. In December 2019, four additional sites began preparing for operations. All six sites were fully operational by January 2020. Each site was chosen after an analysis of data regarding where the program is likely to have the greatest impact. Included in that analysis was MPD incident and shot spotter data, as well community intelligence regarding shootings, homicides, and warring neighborhoods. After identifying areas with persistent gun homicides and shootings, Cure the Streets staff reached out to community members in the areas to understand the nature of the violence.
Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the work of Cure the Streets
The work of Cure the Streets has continued despite the pandemic and the resulting challenges. These communities have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. They had more cases of COVID-19, many residents lost jobs, and kids in were not physically in school. But the Cure the Streets violence interrupters kept working – and that work helped save lives in some of the hardest hit neighborhoods. For example:
- In FY 2021, Cure the Streets conducted approximately 82 mediations across the District, helping prevent the escalation of violence where it may have otherwise occurred. That number reinforces the importance and impact of community-based efforts to stop gun violence.
- Specifically, in late May 2021, Cure the Streets workers were able to help a participant — by definition, a person who was at high risk of being involved in gun violence — find full-time work and surrender his firearm.
Data on Cure the Streets
Early data indicates this public health approach to treating violence is working in these neighborhoods. No program is perfect – but we are constantly looking at the data. To fully evaluate the program, we need the program to be up and running for at least three years to have sufficient data to identify any systematic trends, and then we need to conduct a rigorous analysis of the data to see what is successful and what needs to be adjusted.
Contact OAG's Cure the Streets team at email@example.com.
- "Community-Driven Violence Interruption Programs are Helping to Reduce Gun Violence. Let's Keep Investing in Them." (8/4/21)
- Cure the Streets Data Dashboard (link)
- Cure the Streets Spotlight on Violence Interrupters
- Blog: Reducing Violence Amid Coronavirus (06/26/20)
- Blog: Cure the Streets Boosts Census Participation in Ward 8 (06/09/20)
- Blog: “Cure the Streets” Pilot Expansion: Making DC Safer Through Violence Interruption (10/16/19)